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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke May 26, 2021

Case of missing Nebraska boy generates false social media claims

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  • Rumors are spreading on social media that the mother of a missing boy in Nebraska confessed to killing him. The police chief has criticized what he called “disgusting” rumors and said they’re “absolutely false.”

The police chief in the city of La Vista, Neb., has blasted what he called "disgusting" rumors about the case of Ryan Larsen, an 11-year-old with autism who police say went missing on May 17

"There has been some chatter on social media from some keyboard warriors in basements talking about ‘We have an arrest, we found Ryan,’ that is absolutely false," La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten is quoted as saying in a May 25 news report by KETV, a local ABC News affiliate

And yet a picture of a group text conversation discussing the case continues to be shared widely online. 

"The mom confessed," reads one of the texts in the picture. "She has failed a polygraph. They are having trouble getting him out because of the vegetation in the lake. She overdosed him and thru him in. They are waiting to release the info to the public until body is retrieved."

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

We reached out to La Vista police about the post and Lausten echoed what he told local reporters.

"We are fielding/seeing hundreds if not more inaccurate and unfounded reports circulating on social media," he said in an email. "We have worked to stress repeatedly that we will share all accurate information and updates on our La Vista Police Twitter page (@lavistapolice), as well as with our local media partners."

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No arrests have been made, no one is in custody and the search for Larsen is ongoing, he said.  

The department had previously tweeted that they were aware "of the countless tip/posts across social media regarding rumors on Ryan’s case."

"THESE ARE FALSE," the department said on May 23. 

Lausten told local news reporters the next day that authorities continue to search for the boy and that they’re focused on an area near a lake where multiple K9 dogs alerted to something. 

Lausten said that police haven’t ruled out foul play but he described Larsen’s family — including the boy’s mother — as "extremely upset." 

"The mother, the other sisters, were just destroyed," the police chief said. Police have said nothing that would substantiate any of the information in the text messages being shared online. 

We rate this post False.


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Case of missing Nebraska boy generates false social media claims

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